The Jaguars know Michael Vick will debut against them Thursday when they face the Eagles in the all-important third preseason game. They also know he could line up in a variety of positions –- quarterback, slot receiver, wide receiver, running back.
The rest of the football world can worry about where, when and how Vick plays. The Jaguars haven’t devised any special game plans for the three-time Pro Bowler, who is making his return to the NFL after missing two seasons while jailed on federal dogfighting charges.
“It could be good practice for the Wildcat and things like that, and we know that he is a playmaker, but going into the game, we’re going to try to work on things we need to get better at,” Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said. “We’re not going to try and set a defense for Michael Vick. We’re hoping to play well enough on offense and defense to create problems for them.”
While Jacksonville’s philosophy is to not use the preseason to game-plan for its opponent, this situation somewhat foreshadows how Vick can affect a game, even with weeks of film to study.
How much time does a team spend scheming for when he’s on the field? How do defenses react if the Eagles use some of the same formations Vick has played in when he’s not on the field? Will teams use spies against Vick, the way the Buccaneers and Panthers did, with success?
On the flip side, how much can the Eagles count on Vick, especially if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell makes him sit out the first six games of the regular season?
Vick presents an interesting piece on the chess board, and how he performs these next few games could tell us how effective he could be, even if it’s for nothing else than making opposing defensive coordinators spend more time preparing for something that might –- or might not –- happen.
– Steve Wyche